Looking good is just as much about what goes inside as it its about taking care on the outside. The strength of nails is largely determined by one's genes. However, a healthy and balanced diet is necessary for overall health and the general well being of the nails as well. Common problems like brittleness, softness and splitting can be tackled if we know what's causing them and also by following the right diet. Our nails are made of keratin and the nutrients in our food can help enrich them.
"Keratins are dead proteins, also what our hair is made of. You take take biotin supplements and vitamin E capsules to enhance the production of this protein. Besides, this vegetarians can rely on food like green leafy vegetables, lotus stem, mushrooms and broccoli which are rich in flavonoids that boosts production of keratin. Similarly, seafood like fish and prawns can be added to your non-vegetarian diet for healthier nails. More than what you eat, how you eat it also makes a difference. For instance, adding some lime juice (Vitamin C) boosts the absoprtion of nutrients from these foods," says Dr. Deepali Bhardwaj, Skin Care Expert.
Sirisha Singh, Consultant Dermatologist and Aesthetic Dermatologist, suggests these five foods that you should include in your diet for strong nails:
Fish: Fish is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and also provides a healthy dose of proteins and sulphur. Salmon, mackerel, cod, sardine have high quantities of Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids help in moisturising the nail bed and increase the suppleness of thin and brittle nails. Phosphorous and sulphur help in thickening of the nail and thereby strengthening it.
Organ Meat like Liver: Liver from non-vegetarian sources is rich in iron. Iron deficiency is the most common cause of brittle nails. Iron deficiency is particularly common amongst vegetarians as vegetarian sources of iron (non-heme iron) are not as good as heme iron present in non-vegetarian sources. For people who are purely vegetarian, a diet containing spinach, lentils, beans and jaggery can give a good amount of iron.
Milk and Dairy Products like Yoghurt and Cheese: They are rich in calcium, biotin and proteins. Nail primarily comprises keratin, which is a protein. A protein-rich diet helps in strengthening this keratin matrix. Biotin and calcium help in strengthening the nail plate and make it less prone to cracking.
Egg White: Egg white is a rich source of protein. This helps in making the keratin of nails thicker and stronger. Egg white also provides a rich source of biotin. However, raw eggs have a binder that binds to biotin and makes it non-absorbable. People who consume large amounts of raw egg whites can therefore, have biotin deficiency which can actually lead to brittle and fragile nails. Cooked egg whites are healthy and good for the nails.
Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds and Oats: These food items are rich sources of zinc. Zinc is a micronutrient which isn’t easily available in foods. Zinc deficiency is therefore, common and can lead to brittle and fragile nails and also white spots on the nails. Eating roasted pumpkin seeds can provide a healthy dose of this micronutrient and prevent fragile nails.